Westcliffe, CO- In 2004 Myron Mullett, TerraTec Industries’ CEO, was working on a government contract job that required his excavating company to lay 90 miles of gravel. “In order to meet the tolerance they gave me,” he recalls, “I would have to drive three rows of stakes for all of that distance. I thought ‘there must be a better way’.” So he began to explore the possibility of designing a blade that would maintain gravel precisely without the need for stakes. “I asked people in the industry what they thought of the idea and they kept bringing up why it wouldn’t work,” he says. “So I tried an inexpensive prototype. And it worked way better than we ever thought it would.”
That was five years and three prototypes ago. Now, TerraTec’s AggreScreed is set to change the way roads are built. “Today in spreading gravel, companies use a blue-top staking system,” Mullett explains. “To use the AggreScreed you don’t have to place any type of gravel staking in order to accomplish your proper thickness. The AggreScreed will ensure that with minute details. The biggest change is that it’s a stakeless process.”
That’s a very big change. Attachable to virtually any bulldozer (though a 125-250 horsepower sized dozer is recommended) the 16-foot AggreScreed blade adjusts to 24 feet in two-foot increments. It’s capable of laying gravel at any depth from zero to 15 inches and can even create up to a three-and-a-half percent crown in a single pass. That means huge potential savings in labor and equipment costs.
For example, assuming a surveyor using two men to lay three rows of stakes every 40 feet would take about three days per mile to complete, eliminating that process saves approximately $3,120 per mile. And regardless of the quality of the surveyor’s work, there is always guessing between stakes resulting in re-grooms. Additionally, it’s normally necessary to make at least two passes to achieve a crown; with the AggreScreed the crown is built in to a single, full-width pass, eliminating even more time. So, assuming up to a 24‘ wide road needs to be graded to a depth of six inches, eliminating passes for re-grooms and the crown saves an additional estimated $4,500 per mile.
Now, add in the material savings. Because the AggreScreed is so accurate, it eliminates typical overages figured into jobs in order to ensure proper depth throughout. So in laying 7,000 tons per mile at $14 per ton, and eliminating a minimum five percent overage, the AggreScreed saves $4,900 per mile. While every job varies, Mullett and Lorenzen say, these figures are conservative. “There’s so much waste currently because of the penalties for being under spec of material thickness that most companies go over and lose material,” says Lorenzen. “The AggreScreed is so accurate it makes it easier to estimate your job costs and protect your margin.” And, in an industry that often operates at 10 percent margins or below, every percentage point counts.
With a projected cost of $65,000, the AggreScreed, says TerraTec COO Tim Lorenzen, “is basically paid for in less than 10 miles of laying gravel road. “It doesn’t tie up a dozer for the whole day either. So you can fully utilize the dozer and the operator. You can attach and detach this blade in approximately 15 to 20 minutes.”
Lorenzen says you don’t sacrifice quality for speed. “The AggreScreed lives up to it’s name,” says Lorenzen, “it performs like a screed. And it takes variables – like operator experience – out of the mix. The slope is perfect and there are no dips.” He expects the AggreScreed to be very popular among commercial construction companies as well as State Departments of Transportation and local County Road and Bridge Departments. “It’s versatile, it grades with precision, and saves in labor and materials costs,” he says. The AggreScreed patent has been approved.
Mullett believes the AggreScreed can also be used on bulldozer stockpiling applications as well. “You just add the AggreScreed to your dozer blade and you can increase productivity by two to three times stockpiling wood chips, fertilizers, coal and other lightweight equipment,” he says. Plows fixed to skids on each end of the blade keep materials in front of the apparatus, so it takes fewer passes to move material.
“We’re hoping to exhibit at some upcoming tradeshows,” says Lorenzen, “and we definitely plan to be at ConExpo in spring 2011 with the AggreScreed and possibly some other products.” The AggreScreed will be officially launched in the January 2010 issue of Equipment World magazine. He says demos can be performed at TerraTec’s Colorado location or at locations in adjoining states. To see a video of the AggreScreed, and to find out more about it and TerraTec Industries, visit www.terratecind.com.